Archbishop of St Andrews

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"Primate of Scotland" redirects here; not to be confused with the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland or the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Saint Andrew depicted on a coat-of-arms of the burgh, now in the St. Andrews Museum

The Bishop of St. Andrews (Scottish Gaelic: Easbaig Chill Rìmhinn, Scots: Beeshop o Saunt Andras ) was the ecclesiastical head of the Diocese of St Andrews and then, as Archbishop of St Andrews (Scottish Gaelic: Àrd-easbaig Chill Rìmhinn), the Archdiocese of St Andrews.

The name St Andrews is not the town or church's original name. Originally it was Cellrígmonaid ("church of the king's mounth" hence Cill Rìmhinn) located at Cennrígmonaid ("head of the king's mounth"); hence the town became Kilrymont (i.e. Cellrígmonaid) in the non-Gaelic orthography of the High Middle Ages). Today St Andrews has replaced both Kilrymont (and variants) as well as the older English term Anderston as the name of the town and bishopric.

The bishopric itself appears to originate in the period 700–900. By the 11th century, it is clear that it is the most important bishopric in Scotland.

List of known abbots

There had been a monastery there since the 8th century. It was probably taken over by Céli Dé monks in the 9th or 10th centuries, and these survive into the 14th century. It is the Gaelic abbey, rather than the continental priory, that the abbot was in charge of; the importance of the Céli Dé abbey has come down into the modern era in the street names of St. Andrews.

Only a few abbots are known. It is often thought that the position of Abbot and Bishop were the same until the Norman era, but clear evidence for this is lacking.

Incumbent Dates Notes
Túathalán d. 747 His death in the Annals of Ulster constitutes our first literary evidence of any religious establishment at St. Andrews (then called by the Scoto-Pictish name Cennrigmonaid).
Unknown number of unnamed abbots Probably all the bishops before Fothad II, and perhaps before Turgot, were also abbots of the Céli Dé community.
Gille Críst fl. 1172–1178 That he is called abbot is evidence that the Céli Dé community were maintaining their independence from the priory in the period.

List of known bishops

The pre-11th century "bishop of the Scots" may have had no fixed seat before finally settling at St Andrews.

Incumbent Dates Notes
Cellach I fl. 878–906 Bishop during the reign of Giric, and was still bishop in 906.
Fothad I d. 963 Bishop during the reign of King Idulb. The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba has his death in the period 962–966. According to the Annals of the Four Masters, he died in 963.
Máel Ísu I 955/6–963/4 According to Bower, he reigned for 8 years.
Cellach II fl. 966–971 According to Bower, he reigned for 25 years.
Máel Muire fl. late-10th century
Máel Ísu II fl. late 10th century/early 11th century
Ailín fl. early 11th century
Máel Dúin d. 1055 The Annals of Tigernach place his death at 1055.
Túathal 1055–59 The Annals of Tigernach place his predecessor's death at 1055, and Bower tells us he was bishop for 4 years, which makes a bishopric of 1055–59 likely, although it is possible that he did not succeed immediately.
Fothad II 1059?–1093 He performed the marriage of King Malcolm III of Scotland to Margaret (c. 1070). According to the Annals of Ulster, died in 1093.
Giric 1093–1107 He appears in Version A of the Foundation Legend of St. Andrews. He is almost certainly the Gregorius mentioned by Bower.
Cathróe 1093–1107 He is one of four bishops-elect listed by Bower (Giric, Cathróe, Eadmer and Godric). As the list is in chronological order, only Cathróe can have been bishop elect before Turgot, Eadmer being bishop-elect in 1120, after the death of Turgot.
Turgot of Durham 1107–1115
Eadmer el. 1120–1121 Never consecrated.
Robert of Scone 1123/24–1159 Previously Prior of Scone.
Ernald 1160–1162 Abbot Waltheof of Melrose was offered the position before Ernald, but refused it.
Richard the Chaplain 1163–1178
Hugh the Chaplain 1178–1188 Opposed by John the Scot
John Scotus 1178–1188 Opposed to Bishop Hugh. Never took possession of the see.
Roger de Beaumont 1189–1202
Geoffrey de Liberatione postulated 1202 Bishop of Dunkeld, his postulation was rejected by the Pope, so he remained at Dunkeld.
William de Malveisin 1202–1238 Previously Bishop of Glasgow.
David de Bernham 1239–1253
Robert de Stuteville el. 1253 not consecrated; never took possession of the see.
Abel de Gullane 1254
Gamelin 1255–1271
William Wishart 1271–1279
William Fraser 1279–1297
William de Lamberton 1297–1328
Alexander de Kininmund el. 1328 Appears to have been elected but was superseded by John Bane.
James Bane 1328–1332
William Bell el. 1332–1342 bishop-elect, spent ten years at the papal court, probably without obtaining confirmation
William de Landallis 1342–1385
During the Great Schism (1378–1417), Scotland recognized the Pope at Avignon, who recognized the following bishops:
Stephen de Pa 1385–1386 Not consecrated; never took possession of the see. Was captured by pirates on his way to continental Europe, and kept prisoner in England.
Walter Trail 1385–1401
Thomas Stewart el. 1401–1402 Never consecrated. He was the bastard son of King Robert II of Scotland, and renounced his rights soon after his election.
Walter de Danielston el. 1402 Not consecrated.
Gilbert de Greenlaw postulated 1403 Not consecrated. He had been Bishop of Aberdeen, but Pope Benedict XIII refused to confirm his postulation, and instead appointed Henry Wardlaw.
Henry Wardlaw 1403–1440
In opposition, the Pope at Rome appointed the following Bishops, none of whom took possession of their See.
Alexander Neville trans. 1388–1392 Exiled Archbishop of York, Pope Urban VI appointed him to St. Andrews. Died in 1392.
Thomas Arundel trans. 1398–1399 Exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Boniface IX appointed him to St. Andrews before being restored to Canterbury the next year.
John Trevor trans. 1408–1410 Formerly Bishop of St. Asaph. Died in 1410.
After the conclusion of the Schism, the Pope recognized the following Bishops.
James Kennedy 1440–1465
Patrick Graham 1465–1472/8 Elevated to Archbishop in 1472.

List of archbishops

The bishopric of St Andrews was elevated into an Archbishopric in 1472 by Pope Sixtus IV. The Scottish church broke with Rome in the Scottish Reformation of 1560.

Incumbent Dates Notes
Patrick Graham 1472–1478 Deposed for corruption and insanity in 1478.
William Scheves 1478–1497 Co-adjutor since 1476.
James Stewart, Duke of Ross 1497–1504
Alexander Stewart 1504–1513 Killed at the Battle of Flodden
John Hepburn el. 1513 Elect, not accepted by the Pope.
Cardinal Innocenzo Cybo 1513–1514 He was the nephew of Pope Leo X, and appointed by the Pope instead of John Hepburn. Owing to lack of support in Scotland, an exchange was made with Archbishop Forman of Bourges.
William Elphinstone 1513–1514 Received crown nomination and chapter postulation for translation from bishopric of Aberdeen but died without possession on 25 October 1514. It is not known whether or not the Pope would have accepted his translation.
Gavin Douglas 1513–1514 Received crown nomination after death of Elphinstone; was not accepted by the Pope and became Bishop of Dunkeld instead.
Andrew Forman 1514–1521 Bishop of Moray, Archbishop of Bourges, obtained St Andrews through exchange with Cibo.
James Beaton 1522–1539
David Cardinal Beaton 1539–1546 Co-adjutor since 1537.
John Hamilton 1547–1571
Gavin Hamilton 1571 Co-adjutor since 1551.
John Douglas 1571–1574
Patrick Adamson 1575–1592
George Gledstanes 1604–1615
John Spottiswoode 1615–1638
Abolition of Episcopacy 1638–1661
James Sharp 1661–1679 First Archbishop of the Restoration Episcopacy.
Alexander Burnet 1679–1684
Arthur Rose 1684–1689 (1704)
In 1689, episcopacy was declared abolished in the Church of Scotland, but continued in the Scottish Episcopal Church.


  • Anderson, Alan Orr, Early Sources of Scottish History: AD 500–1286, 2 Vols, (Edinburgh, 1922), vol. i
  • Anderson, Marjorie Ogilvie, "St. Andrews before Alexander I", in G. W. S. Barrow (ed.), The Scottish Tradition, (Edinburgh, 1994), pp. 1–13
  • Barrow, G. W. S., "The Clergy of St. Andrews", in The Kingdom of the Scots, 2nd Ed., (Edinburgh, 2003), pp. 187–202
  • Dowden, John, The Bishops of Scotland, ed. J. Maitland Thomson, (Glasgow, 1912)
  • Keith, Robert, An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops: Down to the Year 1688, (London, 1824)
  • Lawrie, Sir Archibald, Early Scottish Charters Prior to A.D. 1153, (Glasgow, 1905)
  • Macqueen, John, MacQueen, Winifred & Watt, D.E.R. (eds.), Scottichronicon by Walter Bower in Latin and English, Vol. 3, (Aberdeen, 1995)
  • Watt, D. E. R., Fasti Ecclesiae Scotinanae Medii Aevi ad annum 1638, 2nd Draft, (St Andrews, 1969)

See also